For three consecutive weeks, the only time it rained in the Shenandoah Valley was on Saturday afternoon.
Those Saturdays felt painfully wasted. We spent some time sourcing more materials – a box of framing nails here, a pair of decorative secondhand windows there – but you’d have thought we were both sentenced to death by firing squad if you saw the way John and I wandered through Lowe’s, looking pathetically hangdog and glum.
We knew that when the time came to raise the tiny house, it would be an all-day affair. It was going to take our whole village, so to speak. Our subfloor is an unconventional experiment in conserving height and especially weight, which is critical when you’re expecting a pickup truck to tow your house down the highway; but because of its construction (and I’ll elaborate on that later), there was no way we could risk getting it even a little bit wet. Our home would have to go from a bare trailer to a framed, sheeted, and roofed structure in a single day.
So, you know, no pressure.
Melanie and I passed some rainy hours in the shop, building extra roof trusses for the cantilevered end of the house. She was such a natural with the nailer that the boss is thinking about replacing James.
Admittedly, it’s this kind of seemingly purposeless waiting that can easily lead to despair. As our only free day slipped away each week in a constant trickle of cold and wet, we started to feel more and more ridiculous for ever dreaming up such a mad ambition. What were we thinking, believing that we could build a whole house from scratch – even a tiny one? At what point does youthful exuberance and stubbornness and a whole truckload of determination stop being enough?
We would go home to our rented 120 square foot room, strip off our damp socks, and lie awake all night thinking silently about the tidal wave of embarrassment waiting for us on the other side of this inevitably failed endeavour. There were so many people supporting us, sharing their prayers and advice, their resources; all for the sake of a couple of goofy kids with no idea what they were doing. But we were on the verge of proving all the naysayers right.
More than anything, it was devastating to watch someone I love struggle with such self-doubt. The one person who is always enthusiastic, always optimistic, always so cheerful and energetic that he somehow manages to make it look completely effortless. He was convinced that he would fail in fulfilling his vocational duty to build a house that I could make lovingly into a home. More than anything else, I was heartbroken by his suffering.
Three weeks is such an inconsequentially short length of time in the grand scheme of the universe, but every day is an eternity when the one you love is struggling. Even together, we felt lost and useless.
And then, finally, the sun came out.